Bom Suk Kim is the CEO of Coupang. For those who are curious, said corporation is one of the biggest online retailers in South Korea, thus making it a name of note in the world of e-commerce. In this, Coupang has been helped out by the conditions created by the COVID-19 crisis. Something that it shares with a lot of its counterparts. What Are 10 Things You Didn't Know About Bom Suk Kim? Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Bom Suk Kim:
1. Born in Seoul
Kim was born in Seoul. It is interesting to note that said city has had a number of other names over the course of its existence. For example, Seoul was called Wiryeseong when it was still the capital of Baekje, which was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea that existed from 57 BC to 668 AD. Similarly, it was also called both Hanyang and Hanseong for quite some time under the Joseon dynasty. Regardless, Seoul is a very suitable name, seeing as how it means "capital."
2. Left South Korea At a Young Age
Having said this, Kim left South Korea when he was still at the age of 7. By the age of 13, he was attending a boarding school in Deerfield, MA.
3. Went to Harvard University
Later, Kim went to Harvard University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Science. Eventually, he spent some time studying at Harvard University's graduate business school as well. However, Kim dropped out in preference for pursuing other opportunities after just six months in his program.
4. Interned At The New Republican
It seems safe to say that Kim has an interest in publications. For instance, he interned at The New Republican, which is one of the better-known publications when it comes to American politics. It is interesting to note that said publication has seen some serious changes in its stances over the course of its existence. The New Republican was founded by progressive leaders, so it stands to reason that it started out with progressive views. During the 1980s and 1990s, it started moving in a conservative direction, with the result that it sometimes seemed like a proponent of Third Way politics. In more recent times, The New Republican has returned to a more progressive stance on a wide range of topics.
5. Spent Some Time Working At Boston Consulting Group
Kim spent some time working at Boston Consulting Group, which is notable because said consulting firm is considered to be one of the Big 3 along with Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company. However, it seems that Kim wasn't too interested in this line of work, seeing as how he left when he managed to raise enough funds to pursue his next project.
6. Hasn't Always Succeeded with His Start-Ups
It is very common for start-ups to fail. After all, start-ups have much shallower reserves when compared with their well-established counterparts, meaning that they have a much harder time surviving serious missteps. On top of that, most start-ups have to break into their chosen market, thus resulting in an uphill climb for their initial experience. In Kim's case, his first project was a magazine called 02138, which persevered for some time before folding in 2008. It wasn't too long before he moved on to his next project, so it seems safe to say that he didn't let his failure deter him too much.
7. Didn't Invent But Did Innovate
Coupang's business model has been done before. Essentially, it started up on a daily-deal business model, which is when an online retailer offers a single product at a much-discounted price for a period of 24 to 36 hours. This creates useful time pressure because interested individuals have to buy before the chance slips away. Regardless, said business model has been around since the mid 2000s, though it can trace its roots even further back to online retailers that were around during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Of course, it would be a mistake to say that Kim hasn't innovated on the daily-deal business model, seeing as how Coupang has thrived while plenty of both well-established and not so well-established competitors haven't.
8. Timeliness Helped a Lot
Some of Kim's success can be explained by his timeliness. He was in business school when he took an interest in such online retailers. However, Kim didn't wait until he had graduated before deciding to start something similar. Instead, he dropped out of business school for the purpose of starting up Coupang because he wanted the first mover advantage, which has proved to be critical for a wide range of businesses in a wide range of markets.
9. His Chosen Market Helped a Lot As Well
Speaking of which, Kim's choice of South Korea helped out a lot as well. Primarily, this was because of a couple of reasons. One, South Koreans spent a lot of time on the Internet and continue to spend a lot of time on the Internet. As a result, that makes for a huge potential customer base for an online retailer. Two, South Korea is very densely populated. For those who are unfamiliar, the Seoul Capital Area contains more than 25 million people, which is enough to make it the fifth largest metropolitan area in the entire world. However, what is particularly remarkable about this number is that the total South Korean population is more than 51 million. A number that should speak volumes about the concentration of people in said country. In any case, high population density is extremely desirable for online retailers because it makes deliveries much easier and thus much less expensive.
10. Has Benefited Much From Its Fast Deliveries
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coupang has benefited much from its fast deliveries, which promise same-day or next-day deliveries of a wide range of products. Thanks to this as well as other factors, it has seen huge expansion, so much so that it now has operations in countries beyond South Korea. On top of that, Coupang managed a multi-billion IPO in the United States, which is one of the biggest IPOs from an Asian company on a U.S. exchange ever.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee